By Maila Ager | Inquirer.net
MANILA, Philippines — Fourteen senators on Monday voted to approve on third and final reading a bill postponing the February 21 Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to the last Monday of October 2016.
No senator objected when the bill was put to a vote on the floor immediately at the start of the session of the Senate.
The House of Representatives has also approved its own version of the bill postponing the SK polls to October 2016.
Once ratified by both chambers of Congress, the proposed measure will now then be transmitted to President Benigno Aquino III for signature.
“Elections can wait. Both chambers are working overtime to put reforms in place. Holding the SK elections without these reforms will render all efforts made by legislators useless,” Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.
Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on local government, stressed that the youth sector plays a significant role in community affairs, policy-making and public governance.
“The Sangguniang Kabataan must first be reformed and restructured in order to effectively represent the needs and concerns of the youth sector. We need to prepare the significant legislation that would institute meaningful, timely and viable reforms in the SK,” he said.
To institute reforms in the SK, the senator also authored Senate Bill No. 2401 known as the Youth Development and Empowerment Act of 2014, which seeks to amend the age of SK officials from 15 to 17 years old to 18 to 24 years old. The bill also seeks to provide trainings to professionalize and make the elected SK members aware of the responsibilities they face and enforce anti-dynasty measures down to the barangay (village) level.
“We can talk of any date of SK election as long as it will be under a new SK Reform Law,” Marcos added.
Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, chairman of the Senate committee on youth, also threw his support behind the proposed SK reforms.
“It is urgent and important that we reform the SK as a platform for engaging the youth in the grassroots level, and where the youth will be honed to become better and more effective public servants in the future,” Aquino said.